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LO girls take 4th at state

by: Vern Uyetake, 
Above, Lake Oswego’s Amy Beth Simanton hit a shot out of the rough during the second day of the state golf tournament on Tuesday. Simanton finished in a tie for second place. Below, Lakeridge’s Taylor Babcock belts a drive en route to a first-day score of 79.

Amy Beth Simanton found some solace shortly after finishing her round on Tuesday at the OGA Member's course in Woodburn. The junior had just finished a difficult back-nine in which she saw a slim lead over Southridge's Avery Sills evaporate. The two had tied for a state title in 2007 but, this year, Sills' steady play won out as she bested Simanton by just two strokes to win the championship outright.

But, as the scores were added up, Simanton mustered a brief smile. As it turned out, the final battle in a year-long war with West Linn, would be won by the Lakers. The two league rivals had been separated by the slimmest of margins in virtually every tournament this season with the teams even tying for the league championship.

After Monday's rounds, the Lions led by a single stroke over Lake Oswego for fourth place. With the top four teams receiving trophies at state, the Lakers made it a goal to knock off West Linn for that spot. As it turned out, they did just enough, beating the Lions by two strokes on Tuesday to finish in fourth place by a single shot.

'I was really happy about that. It made me feel a lot better,' Simanton said.

Simanton seemed to be in perfect position to claim another state title this year. On Monday, she shot a stellar round of 73, which was good enough for a one stroke lead over a trio of girls. She actually was under par until a double bogey on the 16th hole.

On Tuesday, Simanton was paired with Sills and West Linn's Sharon Shin, who each shot 74 on Monday and figured to be the junior's biggest challengers. And, early on, Simanton's second round was even better.

She was nearly flawless through nine holes, coming in with a one-under par 35. In fact, with just eight holes to play, she led by three strokes. Simanton played the front nine at one-under par for the tournament.

'On the front nine I played about perfect. I couldn't have asked for better,' Simanton said.

But then her driver left her. On the 12th hole, Simanton found trouble off the tee which led to a double bogey. Both Simanton and Sills birdied the 13th hole but, on the 14th hole, another errant drive led to another double bogey. Suddenly Sills had a two-stroke lead with four strokes to play.

'I blew it. I was in the lead and Avery stayed solid. I just couldn't come back. I hit a couple of shots that I'm not used to hitting,' Simanton said.

Still, Simanton had plenty of opportunities to make up ground. While Sills was steady and content to play for pars, Simanton attacked the pin. On 15, she hit an approach out of the rough to within 10 feet but narrowly missed the birdie putt.

On 16 she lipped out a short par putt to give Sills a three-stroke advantage and, on 17, after hitting a terrific tee shot to about eight feet. Simanton burned the edge on another birdie putt and settled for par.

Simanton would also par the 18th hole and pick up a stroke on Sills but she was left wondering what might have been. She ended up in a tie for second place this year with Tualatin's Seshia Lei Telles.

'I tried my best and Avery was flawless. It makes me really hungry for this summer,' Simanton said.

Perhaps the hero of the day for Lake Oswego was Kendall Prince, who was the only one of the team's top-four players to shoot a lower score on Tuesday. In order to overtake West Linn, Prince would likely need to put some distance between herself and playing partner Morgan Thompson.

The two were even through nine holes, each shooting a terrific 39 on the front nine. But Prince was more consistent. The freshman shot another 39 on the back and ended up beating Thompson by four strokes and ending with a two-day total of 150, good enough for a tie for sixth place.

She birdied two of the last five holes to finish the tournament strong.

Kelsey Moede and Deana Ulrich were also solid, each shooting 207 over the two-day event. Moede shot an even 100 on Monday and on Tuesday she shot a 107, which included a birdie on the par-three eighth hole.

Meanwhile, Ulrich shot a 102 on the first day, birdying the 16th hole to highlight her round. And she was consistent on Tuesday, finishing with a 105.

The pair of qualifying Lakeridge individuals also had solid outings. Taylor Babcock was particularly impressive on Monday shooting a seven-over round of 79. Babcock was up and down on the front nine with two birdies on the par threes to go along with a pair of double bogeys.

Then, on the back nine, she was more consistent, shooting one-over par with a birdie and two bogeys. That score was good enough for sixth place after 18 holes.

Tuesday proved to be tougher. She shot a 47 on the front nine but closed the tournament on a high note with three bogeys and six pars in the final nine holes. She finished in a tie for 16th.

The Pacers' Chloe Rossman battled through a tough day on Monday, shooting a 107 but had a terrific second day. Rossman started Tuesday shooting a 46 for her first nine holes and ended up with a 94, improving by 13 strokes.